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"Simon Killer" is an odd, bleak and deeply unsettling film that I
simply could not get to grips with. It tells the story of a young
American neuroscience graduate, Simon (Brady Corbet). Simon leaves the
United States and goes to Paris in an attempt to get over the somewhat
traumatic break-up of a five-year relationship with his girlfriend
Michelle (a character who does not appear in the film). There is
something not quite right about Simon. He is a bit like Patricia
Highsmith's well-known anti-hero Tom Ripley: cold, unfeeling, amoral
and emotionally unintelligent. He is also a compulsive liar.
Soon after his arrival in the French capital (where he initially stays with a cousin of his - who is, in fact, not really a relation but a friend of the family), Simon goes into a sex club where he pays for sex with one of the resident prostitutes, Victoria (Mati Diop). As a result of that encounter, he develops a relationship with her and later moves into her small flat. Victoria opens up to Simon and tells him intimate details of her past, including the fact that she miscarried some time ago. Simon is less willing to disclose information about himself to Victoria. Indeed, one of the many problems with the film is that the viewer is given little or no hint as to what actually motivates Simon and why he frequently behaves so oddly. Part of that oddness is his attitude to women, whom he seems to view as nothing more than objects of sexual desire. At the same time, he attempts to blackmail some of Victoria's "customers" in order to finance his stay in Paris. He later meets another attractive young woman, whom he had bumped into earlier in his stay, and begins a brief relationship with her. This understandably upsets Victoria. Things move on from there.
"Simon Killer" is a very unpleasant film. It is full of graphic sex scenes, many of which are quite unnecessary in that they add little or nothing to plot or character development. In addition, Simon is a deeply unsympathetic character. It is left to the viewer to decide why he is like he is. There are hints that he has some sort of Oedipus complex or perhaps a personality disorder (or both). What is clear is that he is an extremely selfish and shallow person who lacks any sort of empathy for other people. Much of the plot has the feel of improvisation about it. And it's really not at all clear what the message of the film is. In addition to all that, I was simply not convinced by the relationship between Simon and Victoria, in particular why, of all her many "customers", she would choose him as someone with whom to have a serious relationship. Although the conclusion of the film is well done, much of what precedes it is ponderous and lethargic and, as a result, extremely boring. The soundtrack, however, is one of the best of any film that I have seen. But when all is said and done, "Simon Killer" is an unsatisfactory film that is difficult to recommend. 5/10
Within its first 5 minutes I could already sense that I was about to
watch a masterful movie. For this is a most brilliant study of, and
glimpse into, the life of a sociopath. At times, it is so 'fly on the
wall', and so brilliantly acted, that I almost had to remind myself
that this was fiction I was witnessing.
It's written and directed by Antonio Campos, who is admittedly not so well known as a screenwriter, having written only one other feature length movie back in 2008; A fact which is moreover, and to my belief, a tragedy for Campos - because he has most certainly proved himself with this movie, to be an exceptional screenwriter. Simon Killer is, in other words, extremely underrated. Nonetheless, as for its direction, production, acting, screenplay and musical score - all come together in an all too rare, & near perfect, unison.
But why is it underrated? Basically, people cannot and just won't 'like' this movie, precisely because sociopaths are nasty people who callously make the lives of everyone they contact, worse for knowing them. Accordingly, watching a movie about such a person, even one that is as interesting and accurate as Simon Killer, is not therefore a fun or enjoyable experience for any typical audience - at least in the sense that 'enjoyable' should bring a smile onto one's face. For this movie won't endear smiles at any point.
Whereas DeNero's studied psychopath, in Taxi Driver, occasionally brought a wry smile to one's face, and was popularly received as a bit of a misunderstood 'anti-hero', Brady Corbet's Simon is not only always engaging as a character study, but he's always, also, all too steely manipulating, and disgustingly self absorbed. Frankly, of the many movies I've seen, I can think of no other movie, before this, which so realistically portrays how a sociopath engages with other people who pass through his life. And, as such, I cannot recommend this movie highly enough, particularly for those of you, who are analytically minded enough, so as to appreciate its utter brilliance. Again, I'm not promising that anyone will, or could possibly 'like' this movie. Rather, I believe a minority of others will deeply appreciate its very excellence.
"Simon Killer" may the toughest film I've ever tried to categorize.
It's not a horror film, it's not a thriller, it's not a romance, and
it's not a drama. And yet, in another way, it *is* all of those. From
the very title of the movie to the closing scene, this film defies all
"Simon Killer" is the story of Simon, played brilliantly by Brady Corbet, who has just graduated from college and comes to Paris to get over a bad breakup. We never meet Michelle, his ex, but based on Simon's e-mails to her and her reply, it was not a happy breakup, and maybe even worse than that. While there, he meets a drop-dead gorgeous hooker (Mati Diop) and they start a relationship.
I could discuss more of the plot -- and there is definitely more, involving blackmail attempts and other events -- but really, it's irrelevant. The film basically invites us to watch Simon and what he does. And it's engrossing. And the question is, what IS Simon, really. He's not really a pleasant guy. Why is he doing what he's doing? Is he a pathological liar? Or just a confused kid telling small lies in a foreign land. Does he hate women and think they are only for sex? Or is it the opposite, and he gets deeply emotionally involved. "Simon Killer" is fascinating and potentially frustrating as it invites you to watch and yet refuses to give pat answers and instead, seems to raise more questions.
Film, like all art, is subjective, and I found "Simon Killer" absolutely riveting. You may find it disturbing and uncomfortable, but I think it's worth the ride.
Brady Corbet is Simon. Simon has just arrived in Paris, heart-broken
over a recent break-up and uncertain about his future. After having sex
with a prostitute he manipulates his way into a serious relationship
with her. A relationship that involves drugs, blackmail, betrayal and
The less you know the better this memorizing masterpiece will be to experience for the first time. This is one sick and brilliant portrait of a sociopath made up of beautiful moving pictures set to an epic soundtrack. Antonio Campos has nailed it.
Perfectly paced to place us in Simon's shoes, Simon Killer is horrifying eye and ear candy. It's slow and somewhat minimalistic but it's because of this that is seems all that more real. Therefore all that more frightening.
"Superficial charm and average intelligence. Untruthfulness and insincerity. Poor judgment and failure to learn from experience." All the attributes of a psychopath are handled brilliantly by Antonio Campos and executed flawlessly by Brady Corbet. This film has been on my mind for a few days as I remember the edgy scenes with actors half off the screen and my wishing I could just nudge the camera a little bit to see what's going on... although it would not have mattered. The story here is powerful and tells a tale of a manipulative and mentally unbalanced character, but that's not really why I liked the film so much. What blew my mind is the visual treatment, the blasts of audio, the unforgiving sex and the feeling I was looking at an accident I could not turn away from. Lots of similarity to the films of Haneke and Dumont but taken to the next level with an uncompromising cellphone video sensitivity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Walking in to the theater I had no preconception of what this film was
about. Other than that it was set in Paris. And boy did it surprise me.
From the get-go you could tell that it would be an exciting audiovisual
ride. And I'd say it held onto that feeling through out the entire
The initial picture of a desperate young man had me fooled that it was going to be a dreary sob story. Slowly, but surely it dawned on me how incredibly well both Campos, in his directing, and Corbet, in his acting, had done once I realized I could sense the awkwardness as he pushed himself into Noura's life. At this point, I was sold.
The story is a very compelling one, in its own, bizarre way, that the longer it progressed I could scarcely take my eyes off the screen. And as far as trying to fit this masterpiece into a definitive box? I feel like this is one of those movies that just doesn't fit perfectly into any category. The film lends from a wide array of genres, ranging from thrillers to drama and from horror to artsy soft-core and beyond.
I'd sincerely recommend giving this film a view if you're interested in top of the line acting, directing and cinematography, spiced with a hint of atypical story telling. Especially if you are ready to either enjoy or put aside the explicit content, which at times can be a little disturbing, to put it mildly.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Simon Killer' is about a young American who goes to Paris following the failure of his relationship with his girlfriend - the very heavy implication being the break-up was his fault. He quickly inveigles his way into the life of a young prostitute, before taking up with a classier girl. Quite how he manages to get so much feminine action is beyond me - grubby, and festooned with the facial scurf so many young men go in for nowadays, he's a sorry-looking article - he gives the impression he doesn't wipe properly, y'know? And that's before you get to his being really intense and creepy. Worth watching once, but I doubt I'll try to see it again.
An American sociopath decides to vent his frustrations in a foreign land, exercising deep emotional manipulation tactics and brutal ruthlessness. Atmosphere builds up in waves, ushered forward with a dynamic soundtrack (LCD soundsystem, Spectral Display) pounding between the occasional shot with harsh reds and deep white flashes. I feel it's a touch too gratuitous with the sexual scenes, although it is used to show a quickly built relationship, and to that means is very effective. Disturbing and thought provoking, great performances all round. It truly takes a muscle to fall in love, but whether that be the heart, the brain, or anything else, is left to the imagination.
Simon Killer is the new Psychological thriller by Antonio Campos, the
film follows Simon (played by Bradley Corbet) as he travels in Paris
trying to forget about his girlfriend, whom he had just broken up wit,
after staying together. One night as he wonders about he comes to a
strip club, where he meets the stripper/prostitute Noura. (Played by
Mati Diop.) Simon quickly falls in love with Noura and finds it
difficult to spend time away from her and becomes jealous of the fact
that she has to sleep with other men for her job. So to try and fix the
situation he proposes that she should black mail one of the married men
that come for her services. She reluctantly accepts, and they start
their working on their trap, needless to say things do not go according
Simon Killer is a very slow film, and sometimes it's pace works and other times it doesn't. Antonio Campos tries to lull you in with a slow hypnotic pace, working mainly through repetition and dream-like passage of time. The film does a good job of bringing you in with its pace, but unfortunately starts to lose its audience around the half way point. The film becomes very tedious with its repetition and we're not quite sure who we're supposed to be rooting for. The characters motivations become muddled and you're not sure what's going on or why. This works for some films, like Caché or The Virgin Suicides, but films like the ones previously mentioned always give the audience enough to peak there interest and make them want to figure out the rest of the film. Simon Killer doesn't ever do this, so most of the film ends up being pretty forgettable.
But I should give credit where credit is due. First of all Bradley Corbet does a great job as the introverted Simon. He is able to create this character that just doesn't feel right, from the second we see him we can tell that something is just wrong. Antonio Campos also has some excellent camera work, for most of the scenes the camera is set almost completely still, and if there is movement it's typically a slow zoom in/out, or a slow pan to the left or right. The effect is something unnerving, and the cinematography in general is very similar to the cinematography in Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation. i.e. creates a sense of paranoia. Overall I'd say Simon Killer had some good ideas, they just need to be more developed. If you're into slow dark psychological films I'd say it's worth checking out.
Remarkably well constructed film, subtle yet powerful.
Interesting character study of a nauseating sociopath, immersed in his delusional narcissistic fantasies. A well made film, but disturbingly realistic in this portrait of a thoroughly unpleasant character. People like this do exist, of that one can be certain, which is what makes this production more than a bit disturbing.
This is a psychological thriller of sorts . . . no action scenes, just a bit of violence and sex (which is integral to the story). If you're looking for a simplistic, by the numbers action film, this isn't it, it will be too "slow" for you.
On the other hand, if a detailed character study with an unusual set of circumstances from which an engaging story emerges, you might find this well worth the time to watch it.
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